So what is Innovation?
Well really, it is all about change;
- change your processes
- change your products
- change your services
- change your systems
- change your marketing
- change your technologies.
Unfortunately, we all have a problem with change. As humans we become creatures of habit and resist change. Unthinking habitual behaviour is innovation’s worst enemy. Often we get into ruts before we realise it and tend to do the same thing in the same way over and over again. The unfortunate effect on our business is that our approach to problems, people and even opportunities become predictable.
Then, the inevitable happens; there is a downturn in the economy, customers change their buying habits, technology advances or the competition comes out with a better product and we are forced to focus on what we are doing in our business and how we can turn the situation around.
Innovation should be the catalyst for growth in your business all of the time, not something forced upon us in times of uncertainty and challenge.
Your business strategy should include a system for regular innovation, practiced by all members of your team; an environment where creative thinking and problem solving is the norm rather than the reaction to an emergency situation. Some large businesses including Nike, IBM, Apple and 3M have a policy of all team members spending a portion of their time on innovative practices. But it is important that this process is led from the top. you may not have a huge team but you can still spend time on innovation.
Sometimes your innovation will be a reaction to a real need. A recent inspiring example of this is Paraguay’s Landfill Harmonic Orchestra http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiYFcuIkBjU Lacking money to buy enough musical instruments young children from a Paraguayan slum now play on instruments constructed entirely from recycled materials pulled from the garbage dump their homes are built on.
Whether you are innovating for need or future growth innovation can be an exciting and rewarding journey.